Background: Bone metastases represent a common and severe complication in breast cancer, and the involvement of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in the promotion of bone metastasis is currently under discussion. Here, we used a human-in-mice model to study bone metastasis formation due to primary breast CSCs-like colonisation. Methods: Primary CD44þCD24 breast CSCs-like were transduced by a luciferase-lentiviral vector and injected through subcutaneous and intracardiac (IC) routes in non-obese/severe-combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) mice carrying subcutaneous human bone implants. The CSCs-like localisation was monitored by in vivo luciferase imaging. Bone metastatic CSCs-like were analysed through immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry, and gene expression analyses were performed by microarray techniques. Results: Breast CSCs-like colonised the human-implanted bone, resulting in bone remodelling. Bone metastatic lesions were histologically apparent by tumour cell expression of epithelial markers and vimentin. The bone-isolated CSCs-like were CD44 CD24þ and showed tumorigenic abilities after injection in secondary mice. CD44CD24þ CSCs-like displayed a distinct bone tropism signature that was enriched in genes that discriminate bone metastases of breast cancer from metastases at other organs. Conclusion: Breast CSCs-like promote bone metastasis and display a CSCs-like bone tropism signature. This signature has clinical prognostic relevance, because it efficiently discriminates osteotropic breast cancers from tumour metastases at other sites.
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